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Welfare Reform on the Web (August 2006): Child welfare - overseas

Child care in Poland before, during and after the transition

J. Heinen and M. Wator

Social Politics, vol.13, 2006, p.189-216

Under the Communist regime, measures for the provision of public child care facilities reveal that, despite a progressive constitution, Polish women were treated as second class citizens. The move to a market economy and massive privatisations have reinforced this trend. Women are still seen primarily as mothers and suffer discrimination in the labour market. In order to meet the conditions for EU membership, the Polish government made massive cuts in welfare expenditures. Collective child care institutions progressively disappeared until they now cover only 2% of children under three. The women’s movement has made little progress and moves towards emancipation have been opposed by the Catholic Church. Women remain second class citizens.

Fifteen years of family group conferencing: coordinators talk about their experiences in Aotearoa New Zealand

M. Connolly

British Journal of Social Work, vol.36, 2006, p.523-540

Family Group Conferencing as a solution-focused strategy in child protection has been mandated practice in New Zealand since 1989. The Family Group Conference is a legal process that brings together the family and the professionals in a family-led decision forum. The model has now been adopted in other countries as a way of operationalizing notions of partnership and empowerment. This study explores the views of Care and Protection Coordinators who have primary responsibility for convening family group conferences in New Zealand.

The history of child protection in the African American community: implications for current child welfare policies

J. Jimenez

Children and Youth Services Review, vol.26, 2006, p.888-905

This paper presents an historical analysis of informal practices that emerged in African American communities in the early 20th century to protect and care for African American children. This history reveals a shadow child welfare system that performed similar functions to the public child welfare system from which African American children were largely excluded. Based on this history, changes to current child welfare policies to better meet the needs of African American families are discussed.

Investing in children: public commitment in twenty-one industrialized countries

S.G. Gabel and S.B. Kamerman

Social Services Review, vol.80, 2006, p.239-263

The global economy of the 21st century disadvantages immigrants, refugees, families that are poor, large families, single-parent families and families headed by parents with low education. It therefore becomes critical for countries to direct resources so that children’s holistic development will be enhanced and their earning potential will be realised when they become adults. This article demonstrates that, between 1980 and 2001, public investment in children and families with children increased in most industrialised countries or was sustained despite declining numbers of children and economic and political pressures to cut social spending. The authors conclude that future public spending on children is likely to focus on helping families to balance their responsibilities as workers and parents and on enhancing the development of young children.

Lithuania’s children’s policy in the period of transition

D. Kabasinskaite and M. Bak

International Journal of Social Welfare, vol.15, 2006, p.247-256

This article is based on an analysis of the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in Lithuania in its first decade of independence 1991-2001. The main principles of the Convention (child protection, child provision and participation) serve as indicators of the level of child orientation in Lithuania’s family policy. Lithuania shows a lack of child orientation on all three indicators. In child protection, the state operates in the context of a chronic shortage of social work services and ignorance of the structural causes of family problems. In child provision, the combination of a liberal market ideology with a conservative approach to the role of women deprives poor children of adequate means of survival and care. Child participation is limited because parental authority rather than the child’s right to be heard is stressed.

The politics and ideals of care: Danish and Flemish child care policy compared

M. Kremer

Social Politics, vol.13, 2006, p.261-285

Most European welfare states have moved away from supporting the male breadwinner/female caretaker model of family life. However, child care policy differs from country to country. This article compares child care policy in Denmark and the Flemish community in Belgium. In Denmark, universal child care was made possible by an alliance between the women’s movement and social pedagogues which promoted the idea that professional care was best for young children. In Belgium, the Flemish Catholic women’s movement, in alliance with the Christian Democratic Party, successfully advocated state subsidy of child minders, who were regarded as surrogate mothers. Both strategies led to relatively high levels of child care provision.

Small town, big benefits: the ripple effect of $7/day child care

P. Albanese

Canadian Review of Sociology and Anthropology, vol.43, 2006, p.125-140

This study uses qualitative interviews with mothers and child care workers to explore the impact of affordable childcare provision on a deprived community near the Quebec/Ontario border. Benefits of participation in the programme include development of social skills by the children, improved domestic relations, and less financial strain as mothers are freed to find paid work.

Welfare reform and child welfare outcomes: a multiple-cohort study

K. Wells and S. Guo

Children and Youth Services Review, vol.26, 2006, p.941-960

This article reports the results of a study of whether children placed in foster care prior to welfare reform returned home more swiftly than those placed after reform. The study also examines whether specific factors such as a mother’s loss of cash assistance show a stronger relationship to the speed of return home after reform than before. Analysis of administrative data related to a sample of 1560 children shows that children who were placed in foster care after reform were returned home more slowly than those who entered it before. Family income variables also have a strong relationship to reunification speed.

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